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From health to development: a growing centre of excellence in systematic reviewing

Date and Location




Sunday 22 September 2013 - 10:30 - 12:00


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Ruth Stewart

Contact person

Ruth Stewart
Abstract text
Background: It is a credit to the Cochrane Collaboration that systematic reviews are increasingly viewed as gold standard evidence for decision-making in disciplines other than health. Most recently we have seen a paradigm shift in International Development towards commissioning and making use of systematic reviews. Our team from the University of Johannesburg have played an important part in these developments. Objectives: This poster will report on the growing centre of excellence in systematic reviewing at the University of Johannesburg and reflect on how systematic reviews in Development differ from those in Health. Methods: With experience of Cochrane, Campbell, EPPI-Centre and CEE systematic review methods, we are in a unique position to reflect on how reviews in Development build on, and differ from, Cochrane reviews. We will draw on our experience of seeking funding for reviews, conducting them, providing training, engaging stakeholders and shaping policy. Results: Firstly we note that ‘Development’ is an externally applied label, and largely refers to reviews on a wide range of questions with a focus on evidence from low- and middle-income countries. Reviews in Development also currently address particular kinds of (often very broad) questions and draw on a wider range of study designs. This has particular implications for searching, assessing risk of bias and synthesis. Thus far Development reviews have engaged predominantly with policy-makers rather than service users, and have incorporated a relatively new emphasis on causal pathway analysis. Conclusions: There is considerable potential to influence the nature of systematic reviewing in Development, and we believe that it is key for Southern academics to play a role. We therefore welcome the opportunity to share our experiences and invite input from others experienced in reviewing this evidence.